Garden Shares Program for Low-Income Families


Donate Today!

Join our Facebook Event!

Apply for a Garden Share. Download the application.



Providing Families In Need with Fresh, Healthy Produce through A Garden Share Program

For immediate release:  May 7, 2015    

Contact:  Sandhya Tillotson, Executive Director                                              
The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado        

If you could do one thing to help address food security in our community, what would it be?

This Spring help provide a low-income family with a weekly box of fresh, local produce and cooking classes through a Garden Share. The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado, Manna Soup Kitchen, Cooking Matters and local farmers are partnering to offer a garden share program for low-income families and are using crowdfunding to help raise funds and awareness.

Garden Project Executive Director, Sandhya Tillotson, said they are hoping to expand the program, now in its second year, from 8 to 15 families. Tillotson said that a full donation of $500 provides a low-income family with a weekly box of local produce, supplied by the Manna garden and donations from the Durango Farmers Market from June - October, 2015. The families will also receive weekly recipes and invitation to participate in a 6-week cooking class series provided by Cooking Matters. The goal is to raise $7,500 by June 30th, in time for the first produce pickup by families. This is a time limited fundraising campaign and every dollar helps!

Families will have the opportunity to grow and harvest much of the food themselves through weekly workdays organized at the Manna Soup Kitchen Garden. Everyone is invited to attend the garden days, held every Wednesday from 10 am – noon, now through the end of October.

For more information on how to make donations please visit and click on "The Garden Share Program." In addition to helping a family in need, everyone who donates to the project will also receive a free gift from The Garden Project of Southwest.

Harvest Funders is a local crowdfunding website, based in Bayfield, CO, built to assist families and organizations raise capital for agricultural projects.

Garden Share applications are available online in the link above or in person at Manna Soup Kitchen – ask for Jason Cloudt, Volunteer Coordinator.


Add your reaction Share

The Best Time to Plant a Tree...

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”  –Chinese Proverb


And so we planted trees including a Ranier Cherry, a Stanely Plum, a Mt. Royal Plum, and a Mulberry donated by the Permaculture Provision Project. Not to mention several

Read more
Add your reaction Share

No Soil? No Problem!




At the Manna Soup Kitchen Garden, we didn't necessarily start out with rich, fertile agricultural soils or really anything that you might identify as soil. We are blessed with shale, shale, and more shale. As many gardeners in Durango know, shale is not a valued resource for yards, gardens, or urban farms. So you might be getting the picture here that our growing medium was less than adequate for the production of vegetables and fruit trees. If you have the same issue, which you very likely do if you live outside of the animas valley in Durango, there is a way to grow in this landscape.

The key to growing here lies in building your own soil. This is a long term investment and certainly won't pay off instantly so consider your methods of growing soil as your garden savings account. Our path for growing in this area is outlined below:

  • We dug out 2 to 3 feet of shale in order to replace it with soil - the shale should be thought of the same as a pile of rocks, similar to landscaping gravel, granite, or rockfall
  • We built raised beds on top of the dug out areas, ultimately creating around 3 to 4 feet of soil 
  • We added a purchased "vegetable blend" of amended topsoil and filled all of our beds, this gives us a good starting point
  • We set up a worm farm and compost pile to start creating our own soil amendments and fertilizer for the future of our garden
  • We are planning on planting a couple rounds of cover crops like inoculated fava beans or field peas in order to start adding nitrogen to the soil, We will also heavily mulch these areas to keep the soil moist to promote decomposition. Throughout the summer we will add worm castings as they are produced.
  • In the fall, we will add our finished compost that contains a mix of manure, "green"organic materials, and "brown" materials. We are carefully watching our compost temperatures to ensure that the piled is aerated at the proper times to encourage a pile that is ready for the fall

With our expansion of the garden further into the shale reserves, we will continue to build soil for our existing and future garden beds. Our compost pile is a windrow located on the south side of our garden. We added some compost chimneys in order to create some convective air flow. The chimneys are made of PVC pipes with many holes in them, ideally the pile should suck cool air from bottom as the trapped hot air rises. Aeration speeds up the decomposition process (hence turning the pile creates more heat once the temperature has lowered). This chimney method should provide air without us having to turn the large windrow. 

Please feel free to share any experiences that you have all had growing in the shale! This is our common challenge here in Durango. 



Add your reaction Share

Back to the Basics! - Garden Basics Workshop

To get ready for opening day next week at the community garden we gathered for the Garden Basics Workshop taught by Brooke Frazer.

We hold this workshop at the beginning of the season every year due to it's popularity and this year it was the second in our 2015 garden workshop series


Read more
Add your reaction Share

Cover Cropping for Soil Health: 1st Workshop of 2015

With snow of the ground but spring and the growing season present in our minds, we met at the Ohana Kuleana Community Garden for the first workshop of the season. The topic: Cover Cropping for Soil Health.


Read more
Add your reaction Share

2015 Manna Garden Workdays


Join Brooke Frazer, Garden Coordinator for our 2015 Manna Soup Kitchen Garden Volunteer Workdays:

Every Wednesday from 10 am - Noon

April 1st - Oct 28th, 2015

See our Calendar

Will you volunteer?

  • Planting
  • Weeding
  • Harvesting
  • Composting
  • Expanding the garden!
  • Building more raised beds
  • Learning about Small Plot INtensive agriculture (SPIN)
Add your reaction Share

Good Dirt Radio Interview


"At a time when industrial food, produced with pesticides, GMO ingredients and chemical preservatives, is the norm, families across the country are turning to the soil for a saner future. Join us to hear about a rising number of people who are gardening for fun and health, saving money along the way, with a growing awareness about the connection between fossil fuel based food systems and climate change." - Good Dirt Radio...Positive Solutions for a Change

Hear the interview

Add your reaction Share

One Garden at Time

Our annual fundraiser and farm-to-table event "One Garden at a Time" was a success!


Over 80 local foodies gathered on Eolus's rooftop patio to enjoy a fall harvest feast prepared by Chef Chris Cowl. If you thought you were tired of kale you haven't yet tried Chris's kale in coconut cream sauce concoction. Potatoes Au Gratin decadently layered sliced potatoes from Wily Carrot Farm with Belford cheese from James Ranch. A hearty beef stew and vegetarian chili warmed up the evening with local produce from Twin Buttes Gardens, Dove Creek beans and succulent Colorado beef.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Awarded "Healthy Event Seal of Approval"

The Ohana Kuleana Community Garden has been awarded the "Heathy Event Seal of Approval" for Pies in the Garden from San Juan Basic Health Department, endorsed by the Celebrating Healthy Communities Coalition, for providing a safe and healthy community event for La Plata County Children, Youth, and Families.

We earned their endorsement and the Seal of Approval for being a local asset-builder!


Have you heard about the 40 Development Assets that help our youth grow up healthy, caring, and responsible?

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Thrive! Living Wage Certified

We are a Certified Living Wage Employer!

Read more
Add your reaction Share